Thoughts about the so-called SEA e-commerce war

I have been an avid user of Redmart since they opened. Written about them a few times :: I tend to walk to the market with my kids, visit the wet markets or visit the Thai market at Golden Mile but sometimes it is just easier to order some stuff online and have it show up. Magic.

I also use both Uber and Grab since depending on the time of the day and where I am going – sometimes one is cheaper then the other. I still say Uber has superior after sales support and so far that remains true. My biggest complaint was their stupid number masking system but they finally fixed that with the new in-app messaging. Now if they would support using taxi stand numbers I would say there is no difference between the two apart from the customer service. What I mean by that is when I have a problem with Uber they generally respond immediately and just fix the issue. Grab can take hours or days to respond and then it takes many, many emails to fix the issue. I have some issues that were simply never fixed, especially if resolving the issue requires giving me a refund.

Now let’s get to the bigger field of play. Alibaba via acquisitions is battling it out with Amazon in e-commerce. I love a good fight since consumers generally win anyway but one of the weapons the Alibaba team is weilding is the LiveUp loyalty program. As a redmart customer I signed up and honestly forgot to cancel the trial so I got stuck with their one year bill.

Realizing I didn’t want the service I started hunting around to cancel it:

From this:

Q: Is membership renewal automatic?

A: Yes. However, you may choose to end your membership during the free trial if you do not wish to be subject to automatic renewal. Your payment will be processed by either or depending on the pathway that you registered for LiveUp.

So basically only way to keep this from renewing is end your membership.

So then there is this:

Q: How can I cancel my subscription?

A: We are sorry to see you go, but if you insist, you may click on the following links to cancel membership your LiveUp membership. However, any and all unused LiveUp membership credits, Netflix and Uber benefits will be forfeited upon cancellation of LiveUp membership.

If you registered via Lazada:

If you registered via RedMart:

Just to be clear, this is not an error of my blog, those links are not clickable. You have to cut and paste them which to me is the first sign of a horrid user experience. Why make this hard to get to?

Anyway, I cut and paste to cancel since I figured I might forget to cancel.

However I forgot to grok this:

Q: If I cancel my LiveUp subscription, what happens to my rebates and partner benefits?

A: Your subscription will still be active for the full subscription period. Hence, you are still able to enjoy the all the benefits that LiveUp offers until the end of the current subscription period. Do note that unused rebates expire when your membership expires.

Honestly I don’t get what the purpose of a loyalty program is without the benefits but I digress. Once I knew I had to pay I figured I would look into availing of the benefits. The redmart one happens automatically and you get credits on orders so nothing to do there but won’t help me much if I don’t use redmart anymore.

The other benefit I wanted to use was Uber. I started to try and make that work. First I tried emailing LiveUp and nothing happened. Then I tried using Uber support and they kept telling me to login and activate it.

Told me to go here for the record:

I would go there and would find no link to Uber. Finally I called redmart cause after 2 days of sending an email they had yet to return my email. Let me just call out that basically LiveUp support is only by the kindness of the partners, no one seems to actually work at LiveUp from what I can tell.

On the phone, redmart was able to figure out that if you cancel, remember this is the only way to keep from getting billed, that the links to activate the other benefits are gone. Got that? As a user the only way to keep from getting rebilled is to cancel but when you cancel the links to benefit activations are gone.

How is that for loyalty program?

I re-apply to the program and the links show up. I activate Uber and it seems to finally work. A few days after that one of my Uber ride receipts says in yellow at the top to be sure to activate my LiveUp benefits. What? Thought I already did.

Now when I go back to the account page it shows me the activation link again – same as it did before I activated it. The link won’t work this time though. They suggest a workaround to use a special promo code in my Uber app but when I try it I get a promo full subscribed message.

Wow. Winning.

Emails to Uber confirm I am in the program, but have yet to see a ride counter for my 10th ride with 10$ off yet. If it comes cool but if it does not I think I have wasted too much time trying to fix it.

I have always said and will repeat it here, this battle will be won by superior customer service. If LiveUp is an example of this then we already have a leading indicator as to who is winning this battle.

Another good read from the Prof

I can’t wait for his new book…

Till then read ::

The retail apocalypse is real.

Super stoked to have Amazon in Singapore now.

I love this line about people:

Professionally, I’ve expected employees to be loyal as, well … I’m just so fucking awesome — instead of investing in understanding their objectives and calibrating my efforts to address our mutual aspirations.

I think this works so well – focusing on mutual aspirations.

Happy Saturday folks.

Blocking time for (planned) chance encounters

I wrote this before about how I am trying to manage my time.

I always get asked as I have transitioned to VC from a product guy, how I feel about VC life. I think most folks are surprised when I tell them it is all good but managing my time is hard. Why? It is easy to get busy with all the stuff we do. Meeting companies, helping portfolio companies, fund management stuff, meeting LP’s and just spending enough time with your own team helping each other improve our craft.

I am not complaining but just highlighting that if I am not careful – I can easily fill up my day and then wonder where my time went.

Regardless, I still feel it is important to meet new people. Recently I was contacted to provide a referral for a former employee of mine. The person asking for the referral also requested a coffee to chat more. I have made time for these coffees and used my trusty admin Evie, Evie is well trained and knows that coffee meetings are 45 mins at a specific location I like, had it all set up in a few emails.

Yesterday I had that coffee. I am glad I did.

I actually got to meet the guy who helped lead the acquistion of Path and who ran the transitional Path engineering team. There were lots of interesting things I learned but not all I can share. Some small tidbits – the transition team was mostly all Koreans who moved to Jakarta, they all eventually moved back, there is one Indonesian engineer still working on Path, and Path is basically dying a slow death.

We enjoyed our chat given my Yahoo/Koprol experience and it reminded me that the “culture of busy” will keep these fun meetings from happening.

Have fun out there!


Updated :: Valuation

Updated the post with some new info.

His latest book :: Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business (Columbia Business School Publishing)

Also this is his main web page with all the courses ::

Private company valuation is a tough craft – part art, science, gut feel and negotiations.

Came across this the other day:

I love the Prof so figured this was going to be good. And it is.

That lead me to a few more docs.

But this one looks like a gold mine:


Hacking the Fish Tank

DarkTrace never ceases to amaze.

Check this report ::

Read #6:

Technological innovations keep businesses dynamic and pro table, their employees productive and creative, and their premises exciting and modern. A North American casino recently installed a high-tech sh tank as a new attraction, with advanced sensors that automatically regulate temperature, salinity, and feeding schedules.

To ensure these communications remained separate from the commercial network, the casino con gured the tank to use an individual VPN to isolate the tank’s data. However, as soon as Darktrace was installed, it identi ed anomalous data transfers from the sh tank to a rare external destination.

Anomalous activity detected:

  • Transfer of 10GB outside the network
  • No other company device had communicated with this external location
  • No other company device was sending a comparable amount of outbound data
  • Communications took place on a protocol normally associated with audio and video

The tank’s communication patterns included sporadic communications with company devices, but that activity was in line with similarly con gured IoT devices. The external data transfers, however, were deemed highly unusual by Darktrace’s AI algorithms.

The data was being transferred to a device in Finland where an attacker had managed to gain control over the tank. This was a clear case of data ex ltration, but far more subtle than typical attempts at data theft.

By targeting an unconventional device that had recently been introduced into the network, the attack managed to evade the casino’s traditional security tools. Darktrace’s Enterprise Immune System detected the threat because the technology does not make assumptions about where threats will arise. It detected a subtle anomaly that indicated a much larger threat, and it aided the casino in remediating the vulnerability. The incident demonstrates the need to have complete visibility of every user and device – including internet-connected sh tanks.